Purpose of the Code
The Association requires its members to accept and abide by its Code of Professional Conduct as a condition of membership. The Code sets out in detail the standards of personal and professional conduct required and includes a number of specific rules for self-employed members. The standards concern personal integrity, honesty, self-discipline, diligence and professional competence. The Code is intended to give Institute members clear guidance about how to conduct themselves. It is also of value to employers, customers and the community by demonstrating the standard of behaviour they can expect of Institute members.
Scope of the Code
The code applies to members of the Hong Kong Building Inspection Association in all membership categories, ie:, Corporate Members, Fellow Members, Members, Associate Members, Building Inspection Practitioners. Every member has a duty to accept and abide by this Code as a condition of Association membership.
The Code applies to members regardless of their employment status. It includes, for example, workers in the public, private and voluntary sectors; the self-employed; volunteers, academics, students, and people who are permanently or temporarily retired or unemployed.
Violation of the Code
The Association´s disciplinary powers and procedures are set down providing that the Institute can suspend or disqualify members found 'guilty of dishonourable or unprofessional conduct or of conduct prejudicially affecting the welfare of the association'. The process is:
i. A complaint or report of misconduct about an individual member of the Hong Kong Building Inspection Association is received by the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive will notify the Chair of the Professional Conduct Board (PCB) that a complaint has been received.
ii. Following initial and informal enquiries, if there appears to be some substance to the complaint, the Chief Executive is to bring the matter to the attention of the PCB, with a recommendation as to any further course of action.
iii. Once a matter has been referred to the PCB for investigation it shall be agreed by both parties that the investigation remains confidential until it has been concluded, subject of course to the need for the investigation which may involve contact with third parties.
iv. The Discipline Committee Board (DCB), on the receipt of notification from the Chief Executive, takes a decision on the basis of the Chief Executive's recommendation as to whether to continue with the investigation or not.
v. If the DCB decides to continue with the investigation, it writes to the member concerned setting out the nature of the allegation or the potential breach of the Code with a request for his or her observations in relation to the allegations made and potential breach of the Code to be investigated. The member is informed that the investigation is now being carried out on a formal basis.
vi. The DCB shall not proceed with its investigation until the member's observations have been received and considered, or a period of two weeks has elapsed without the receipt by the DCB of a reply by the member.
vii. As an alternative to written reply, the member may request an oral hearing at the DCB, at which he/she may be accompanied or represented by any person of his/her choice. The DCB may also invite the complainant or such other persons as it wishes to discuss the matter with the DCB, a representative(s) of the DCB and the Chief Executive, or the Chief Executive and designated officers identified for these purposes by the DCB.
viii. The DCB shall be empowered to terminate an investigation:
a. if the complainant withdraws the complaint in writing or at a hearing of the DCB; or
b. if the complainant fails after a period of two weeks to provide the DCB with such evidence or information as the DCB may request; or
c. if in the opinion of the DCB the alleged breach, even if proved, would be so trivial as not to justify further action.
ix. If the DCB concludes that a member's conduct, whilst not constituting a breach of the Code, nevertheless falls short of accepted standards of professional practice the DCB shall be empowered to advise the member both orally and/or in writing as to the propriety of his or her actions. This advice shall not in any way be publicized.
x. In the event of the DCB concluding that no breach of the Code has been proved or in the event of the DCB terminating an investigation in accordance with paragraph viii above:
a. the DCB shall report such conclusions or termination of an investigation to the Council with reasons for their decision;
b. this report shall be received by the Council for information only and shall conclude the matter, subject to the member and complainant concerned being notified in writing of the findings;
c. the DCB's conclusions shall not be open to review by the Council. The DCB shall not enter into correspondence regarding this conclusion either with the complainant or with any other person.
xi. If the DCB is satisfied that a breach of the Code or other unprofessional conduct has been proved the PCB may:
a. warn the member in writing as to his or her future conduct (with or without naming him or her to the wider membership);
b. reprimand the member in writing (with or without naming him or her to the wider membership);
c. determine to suspend the member from membership for such period, not exceeding two years, as the DCB may decide or determine to terminate the member's membership of the Institute in accordance with the provisions of Bye-law 18. Such determination shall be forwarded by the DCB to the next Council meeting for ratification by Council.
xii. On receipt of such a determination from the DCB, a proposal to ratify such course of action shall be made to members of the Council.
a. any determination by the DCB that a member shall be suspended from membership or be required to resign his or her membership shall be considered at a meeting of the Council of which not less than 21 day's notice shall be given to members of the Council and to the member concerned stating the object of the meeting and the grounds on which the determination to suspend or to terminate his or her membership is based; and no such ratification by Council of any determination shall occur except by a resolution passed by not less than 3/4 of the members of the Council present and voting at the meeting and unless he or she shall at that same meeting of Council have had an opportunity of appealing against the determination of the DCB and of stating his or her defence either in writing or orally either in person or by Council or by Solicitor or agent and of cross examining any witnesses brought against him or her.
b. if any member, which has been called upon to resign his or her membership fails to do so within seven days from the date of the requirement, the Council shall remove his or her name from the Register of Members and he or she shall thereupon cease to be a member.
c. a member whose membership has been suspended shall not during the period of suspension be entitled to exercise any of the rights of membership but any such suspension shall be without prejudice to the Council during the period of suspension to require him or her to resign from their membership.
xiii. The Council's decision regarding the ratification of the DCB's determination shall be conveyed to the member and complainant concerned in writing and shall be final.
xiv. The Council reserves the right, in the event of finding that there has been a breach of the Code, to give such publicity thereto and to any disciplinary action taken thereon as it may, in its absolute discretion deem appropriate in the interests of the Institute and the public.
The terms of the Code
- Responsibilities of the profession
1.1 Members must at all times conduct themselves in a manner which upholds the reputation of the Institute.
1.2 Members must conduct themselves with regard to the reputation, purpose, objectives and interests of the Association as set out in the Institute's Charter, Byelaws and Mission Statement.
1.3 Members must not do, say or omit to do anything which might bring the profession into disrepute, be inconsistent with or detrimental to the objectives and interests of the Institute or cast doubt on the member's own professional integrity.
1.4 Members must not be associated with any occupation or business which is likely to prejudice their professional status or the reputation of the Institute.
1.5 Members who make public their personal views on any subject must not claim or give the impression that they are representing the official views of the Institute, unless they have been expressly authorized in writing to do so or on behalf of the Council of the Institute.
1.6 Members must not claim or give the impression that any view expressed by that member in relation to any of their business activities or during the carrying on of any of their business activities (including the running of training courses, production of literature, etc) represent the official views of the Institute or have the approval of the Institute unless that member has been expressly so authorised in writing by or on behalf of the Council of the Institute.
1.8 Members must maintain the highest level of knowledge and skills throughout their careers and must comply with any Institute guidelines or regulations on education and continuing professional development that may be issued from time to time.
1.9 Members must have regard to any Institute guidance on professional practice that may be issued from time to time.
1.10 Members must report to the Institute any breach of the Code that comes to their attention.
1.11 Members must assist the Institute in its enquiries into any breach of the Code.
- Personal conduct
2.1 Members must perform their duties diligently, conscientiously, without favour and with regard to the interests of their employers, professional colleagues, their customers and business associates.
2.2 Members must at all times work within the law. They have a responsibility to advise individuals and organisations for whom they work, (such as employers, tenant management boards), and those to whom they delegate work, (such as consultants and contractors), of their respective duties.
2.3 Members must offer advice to those for whom they work with a view to providing housing services which best satisfy customers' needs and aspirations. In particular members are expected to draw to their attention any matter which could be detrimental to housing services.
2.4 Members must seek to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity for all. They must not discriminate against any individual or group on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, cultural background, sex, domestic circumstances, disability, illness, age or sexual orientation.
2.5 Members must never use language which is likely to offend, such as racist and sexist terms.
2.6 Members must ensure that their words and actions do not cause nuisance or harassment to others, for example racial or sexual harassment.
2.7 Members must take steps to ensure that their private, personal, political and financial interests do not conflict with their professional duties. They must disclose to their employer, or if self-employed to any relevant clients, any such direct or indirect interests, (including those of their immediate family, i.e. parents, spouse, children and siblings), which may affect or appear to affect decisions made by their employers, clients or customers, and they must not influence, or appear to influence, such decisions.
2.8 Members must not disclose to a third party any confidential or privileged information entrusted to them by their employers, clients and customers.
2.9 Advertising by members must be legal, decent, honest and truthful and must not mislead or cause public offence.
2.10 Members must not allow their professional judgement or conduct to be influenced or compromised by commercial considerations.
2.11 Members must not accept any hospitality or inducement that could influence their professional judgement in favour of the donor.
2.12 Members must not directly or indirectly exert undue pressure or undue influence on any person, for the purpose of securing work or a contract.
2.13 Members must not accept instructions from any person whom they have reason to believe has been subjected to undue pressure or undue influence in the expectation that the introducer will receive a reward for the introduction.